With the global increase of the HIV-infected population as well as the increased sophistication of chemotherapeutic treatment modalities used to combat autoimmune diseases and cancers, there has been an associated rise in the number of cases of head and neck cancer treated in immunosuppressed patients. Such patients are unique in that their disease biology and progression differs from that found in immunocompetent patients. Additionally, multidisciplinary treatment protocols require adaptation in order to optimise outcome. We use the experiences of the last 5 years at a London-based regional head and neck cancer centre to illustrate the uniqueness of head and neck cancer cases treated in patients who are immunosuppressed for a variety of reasons. We discuss the importance of close working with the relevant specialty involved in the immunosuppressed status and the perioperative needs of this specific patient group.
Conflict of interest: None declared.